Writer: Brian K Vaughan
Pencils: Adrian Alphona
Colours: Brian Reber
Inks: David Newbold and Craig Yeung
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
What’s it about?
Runaways is set in the Marvel Universe and is about a group of 6 teenaged kids who find out that their parents are supervillains. The kids range in age from 11 year old Molly Hayes to 17 year old Chase Stein. Upon finding out the truth about their parents they decide to run away and try and make up for their parents mistakes.
Along the way the kids discover if they powers, learn to work together and are forced to mature and become independent far quicker than they’d anticipated.
What is good about it?
There are no costumes, what the kids and the parents wear is their own, regular day to day stuff. There's a dinosaur. An intelligent dinosaur. The group is really diverse and it doesn’t feel forced. The leader of the group is black, one of the others is Japanese-American, there’s an unapologetically fat girl and in later volumes we are introduced to a lesbian couple, one of whom is a shape changer and so regularly shifts gender. This is used to examine the nature of love and sexual feeling and makes for some interesting dynamics within the group. Four out of the six members are girls.
The best part is that none of this matters. They are a group of kids who just happen to be Black, or Asian, or female, or fat, or gay. These aspects aren’t ignored but worked into the story in a truly natural manner. One of them is a massive nerd with purple hair. Another sews her own clothes. One’s an online role playing game fan. When racism is discussed it’s usually done so via the mutant in the group.
There’s no tits and ass art, there’s no sexism, there’s no exploitation and there’s no stereotypes. All the good characters would serve as role models for younger children, which is handy as it’s an all ages book.
The themes throughout the book range from a coming of age narrative, the interactions between parents and kids, betrayal, loyalty, romance and an old fashioned action yarn. All in all, it’s a well crafted, well paced and interesting read.
The final good point is that it comes in a digest size format – about A5 size. Handy to carry about and takes up less space on your shelf.
What is bad about it?
The only thing I have to criticise about this book is that some of the cover art (from the monthly issues and included withing) makes the fat girl thin. Having said that, the quality of the art itself is pretty special.
What’s the art like?
The colours are muted and what I like to call smokey. See for yourself:
ISBN: 07851 13797 (digest size)